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Dry Creek Kitchen report - long

Paul Pietranico | Sep 3, 200301:00 AM

My wife and I went to Dry Creek Kitchen for lunch today; thanks to all Chowhounds who advised us. Now that our son attends day care twice a week, we’re trying to make it to as many good restaurants for lunch as we can – since our ability to go out for dinner is limited. We wanted a more formal restaurant experience, that’s why we went with DCK. We weren’t disappointed. On the whole, it was a great meal with excellent personable service. There are cheaper places to eat in the Healdsburg area for lunch, but none have food as sophisticated as that at DCK.

The tasting menu ($35) was as follows, including the wines DCK paired with each dish ($25) [I apologize for not getting the vintages for the wines]:

Crispy Sonoma Foie Gras with Toasted Pecan Bread Pudding, Tarragon and Blueberries
This was the least of the four dishes. It was pleasant, but to me lacked overall coherence. The foie gras was a little stringy. I enjoyed it on the whole. We tasted both a Roshambo Traminer and a Dutton pinot noir. The Roshambo was too simple and too sweet to match well. Our waiter, I guess, figured I was a wine geek, and brought out the pinot to try as well. It was good with smokey BBQ pit red cherries, but the sweetness of the dish clipped the aromatics of the pinot and made it taste simpler than it really was. It’s a tough dish to match. I might have gone for a Maury or lighter Banyuls as a potential match – but of course, those aren’t in Sonoma!

Pan Seared King Salmon with Green Tomato Jus, Lemon Oil, and Tobikko Caviar
It was a well-presented dish, the red salmon with charred black skin, sitting in a white bowl of green tomato jus, with a dab of caviar on top. It also was fantastic, coming in close second to the dessert mentioned below. The fish was ultra fresh, with neither the tinny, metallic taste that salmon can have, nor a fishy taste. It was perfect. Lemony salmon with laced with green tomato and little bursts of the sea. The wine pairing was Simi Chardonnay, which was ok. I’m a bit of an oak-o-phobe for whites, and to me this reeked of oak barrel char at first. The char taste clashed with the fish and the green tomato. Once the oak blew off, the wine displayed good balance and worked. I would have gone with something devoid of oak, no residual sugar, but with ripe sweet fruit.

Oven-Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Yellow Chanterelle Mushrooms and Butter Beans
This was a well composed dish, with good interplay between the earthiness of the mushrooms, the rich buttery beans and the perfectly cooked beef. It was paired with a Raffanelli Merlot. I’ve always loved Raffanelli’s wines, they have excellent varietal character, judicious oak and good balance. This was a fairly intense Merlot, reminding me of a St. Emilion made in the “international” style. Great wine by itself and an excellent match with the dish.

Blackberry and Black Mission Fig Summer Pudding with Bellwether Farms Crescenza Cheese Mousse with Port Reduction
Hands down this was the best dish of the meal, and one of the best desserts I’ve had in years. I seriously contemplated ordering a second one, even though I was already close to bursting. The rich and berry-fruit [bread?] pudding, mixed with the rich, creamy but delicate mousse was out of this world. We had a glass of the David Coffaro late harvest Sauvignon Blanc. I’ve bought Dave’s wines for years and never took to his whites, but this was a nice, solid match. The sweetness levels of both the wine and the dish were similar so it worked.

Thanks for reading!

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